COULTER v. COULTER et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER ADOPTING 51 Report and Recommendations re 28 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction and 30 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant JAMES PURVIS COULTER's 28 Motion to Dismis s and Defendants GERRI PAULISICK, JOSEPH PAULISICK's 30 Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint are HEREBY GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the case is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Clerk is to mark CASE CLOSED. Signed by Judge Christy Criswell Wiegand on 5/10/2022. (jmm)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
JEAN ELIZABETH COULTER, BARBARA
ELLEN COULTER (VALVANO),
JAMES PURVIS COULTER, GERRI
PAULISICK, JOSEPH PAULISICK, JOHN
DOE #1, JOHN DOE #2, JOHN DOE #3,
JOHN DOE #4, UNKNOWN SURVEYOR,
This case has been referred to Chief United States Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy
for pretrial proceedings in accordance with the Magistrates Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(l)(A) and
(B), and Local Rule of Civil Procedure 72.
On March 31, 2022, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report, ECF No. 51, recommending
that the case be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and that Defendant James P.
Coulter’s Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 28, and Defendants Gerry and Joseph Paulisick’s Motion
to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint, ECF No. 30, be granted. Service of the Report and
Recommendation was made on the parties, and pro se Plaintiff Jean Elizabeth Coulter filed
objections concurrently with a motion for recusal of the Magistrate Judge and the undersigned and
for transfer to a different court outside of the Third Circuit. ECF Nos. 52 & 53.
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After a de novo review of the pleadings and documents in the case, together with the Report
and Recommendation and the Objections thereto, the Court adopts the conclusions in the
Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation, that the case be dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction and that Defendants’ motions to dismiss at ECF Nos. 28 and 30 be granted, though we
reach the same conclusion by an alternate path than that articulated in the R&R, as follows.
The R&R found that Ms. Coulter has not demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence
any material difference in her domicile between July 27, 2015 (the date she initiated the civil action
Coulter v. Coulter, 2:15-cv-957 where she was found to be domiciled in Pennsylvania) and the
date that she began her current lawsuit. ECF No. 51 at 8 (“Plaintiff has provided no new
information about what steps she took between 2015 and 2020 to establish a domicile in New
Jersey. Plaintiff Coulter physically remains in Pennsylvania and utilizes her Philadelphia P.O.
Box.”). Thus, the R&R recommended that this case be dismissed for lack of subject matter
Ms. Coulter’s Objections to the R&R, however, focus on a 2016 case—Coulter v. Paul
Laurence Dunbar Community Center et al., 2:16-cv-00125-AJS—to support her assertion that she
is “not a citizen of Pennsylvania.”1 ECF No. 52 at 5 (emphasis original). In that case, the
Honorable Arthur J. Schwab of this District issued a text order dated May 24, 2017 stating that
“the District Court has considered whether it had diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a) as of the filing of Plaintiff’s Complaint…. Based upon the record, the Court finds that it
does have diversity jurisdiction….” Coulter v. Paul Laurence Dunbar Community Center et al.,
2:16-cv-00125-AJS, ECF No. 51. That order did not address the prior rulings in this District
The R&R only cites Coulter v. Paul Laurence Dunbar Community Center et al. for the fact that Ms. Coulter has
used her Butler, Pennsylvania address in ongoing litigation, including up until 2021. See ECF No. 51 at 7 n. 4.
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finding that Ms. Coulter was domiciled in Pennsylvania and discussing whether Ms. Coulter had
“produce[d] a preponderance of evidence sufficient to meet that burden of proof and overcome the
presumption of her Pennsylvania domicile.” Coulter v. Coulter, 715 F. App’x 158, 160–61 (3d
The day after Judge Schwab’s order, on May 25, 2017, in another case—Coulter v.
Tatananni et al., 2:17-cv-00629 which was filed by Ms. Coulter after Coulter v. Paul Laurence
Dunbar Community Center et al.—the presiding United States Magistrate Judge issued an order
to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. In that case, the court
took judicial notice of the fact that Ms. Coulter “has lately adopted the practice of claiming to be
a ‘resident of New Jersey’ in an attempt to satisfy diversity of citizenship when she sues
Pennsylvania defendants,” and, as is the case here, that Ms. Coulter did “not identify an address in
New Jersey, but she [did] provide a mailing address in Pennsylvania.” Coulter v. Tatananni, Civil
Action No. 17-629, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102900, at *7–8 (W.D. Pa. June 30, 2017) (Mitchell,
M.J.), report and recommendation affirmed by, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140038 (W.D. Pa. Aug.
30, 2017). The court found that in “many previous cases, [Ms. Coulter] identified Pennsylvania
as her place of residence,” which “create[d] a presumption that she remains at this established
domicile, a presumption which she has not rebutted.” Id. Ms. Coulter appealed the dismissal, and
the Third Circuit affirmed on alternate grounds, concluding that Ms. Coulter “did not attempt to
meet her burden of production after questions concerning putative diversity jurisdiction were
raised.” Coulter v. Tatananni, 737 F. App’x 613, 616 (3d Cir. 2018). The Third Circuit found
that Ms. Coulter failed to directly respond “to the aspect of the Magistrate Judge’s show cause
order related to diversity jurisdiction” and her objections “failed to provide sufficient facts to
establish citizenship in any state.” Id. (emphasis added).
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The Third Circuit characterized Ms. Coulter as a “present[ing] herself as a rolling stone,”
who refused to provide a home address and was “again considering re-locating.” Id. n.7 (noting
that Ms. Coulter “pontificates” as to how “she was (1) ‘find[ing] herself often in the area of
Washington, D.C.,’ (2) being ‘pull[ed]’ by her ‘connections’ to the ‘Northern part of New Jersey,’
and (3) not discounting possible citizenship in Illinois.”). In analyzing her allegations, the Third
Circuit reminded Ms. Coulter that, to the extent she “seeks entry into federal court on the basis of
diversity jurisdiction, [she] must in each case allege and ultimately establish, inter alia, her
‘physical presence in a state with an intent to remain there indefinitely.’” Id. (citing Frett-Smith
v. Vanterpool, 511 F.3d 396, 401 (3d Cir. 2008)) (emphasis original). Thus, as of April 13, 2017—
the day on which Ms. Coulter filed Coulter v. Tatananni et al., 2:17-cv-00629—Ms. Coulter did
not provide sufficient facts to determine her citizenship in any state.
In light of the long history of cases in this District finding that Ms. Coulter is a Pennsylvania
domiciliary and the fact that Judge Schwab’s order in Coulter v. Paul Laurence Dunbar
Community Center et al. did not address the prior presumption that Ms. Coulter is a Pennsylvania
domiciliary, the Court turns to whether Ms. Coulter has, in this case, provided sufficient facts to
determine her citizenship.
“Citizenship is synonymous with domicile, and ‘the domicile of an individual is his true,
fixed and permanent home and place of habitation. It is the place to which, whenever he is absent,
he has the intention of returning.’” McCann v. George W. Newman Irrevocable Tr., 458 F.3d 281
(3d Cir. 2006) (citing Vlandis v. Kline, 412 U.S. 441, 454 (1973)). Courts consider several factors
in determining an individual’s domicile, including “declarations, exercise of political rights,
payment of personal taxes, house of residence, and place of business[,].... location of brokerage
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and bank accounts, location of spouse and family, membership in unions and other organizations,
and driver’s license and vehicle registration.” Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted).
Like her objections in Coulter v. Tatananni, here, Ms. Coulter’s affidavit in support of
diversity jurisdiction also presents her “as a rolling stone.” Coulter v. Tatananni, 737 F. App’x
613, 616 (3d Cir. 2018). Ms. Coulter’s affidavit recounts many events in her life sequentially and
starts with her time in Massachusetts in 1987, after which she moved to Western Pennsylvania
with her mother, and then continued on to Arizona, Southern California, Seattle, St. Louis, Denver,
and San Francisco in search for “a city where she could happily make a permanent home.” ECF
No. 52 at 10–11.2 Ms. Coulter then describes her time in Illinois, which ended when she “had to
temporarily move to help [Ms.] Coulter’s elderly mother” in Western Pennsylvania at some point
prior to 2004.3 Id. Next, Ms. Coulter then outlines her time in Pennsylvania, after which she
“eventually” “considered where she should live once again.” Id. at 19 (emphasis original). Ms.
Coulter “decided to make, what she believed then (and still believes) will be her last move - to a
‘domicile’… in New Jersey.” Id. In doing so, Ms. Coulter admits that she “has, for many reasons,
not chosen a final, specific address where she believes that she will someday be found dead on the
floor by the meter reader….” Id. at 19–20.
Next, Ms. Coulter describes how she was “trapped” at the beginning of the COVID-19
pandemic in Western Pennsylvania in an extended-stay rental, and then transitioned to another
extended stay rental in Akron, Ohio in September, 2020. Id. at 20–21. Ms. Coulter admits to not
Ms. Coulter submitted the same affidavit at ECF No. 26 and as part of her motions for recusal and Objections at ECF
It is not clear from the affidavit when Ms. Coulter moved to Pennsylvania, however, it appears that Ms. Coulter’s
alleged “temporary move” to Pennsylvania took place some years prior to her mother’s passing in 2004. See ECF
No. 52 at 14–17.
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having a residence in New Jersey as of September 2020. Id. at 21; see also, ECF No. 39 at 6.
Specifically, she acknowledges being unable to “load up a rental car with her belongings, drive to
a location in the region of her ‘domicile’ in New Jersey and get into a unit in one of the extended
stay hotels in that region….” Id. (emphasis added). Ms. Coulter’s more recent filings in this case,
including on October 27, 2021, further concede that Plaintiff “has not had even a ‘semi-permanent’
home in more than a year and a half” due to the pandemic. ECF No. 39 at 4–5. For their part,
Defendants point to recent and consistent court filings by Ms. Coulter, many in 2021, identifying
her address as 620 Butler Crossing #4,4 PMB 172, Butler, PA 16001. In addition, Ms. Coulter has
used the Butler, PA address for certain filings in this case. See ECF No. 29 at 2, 7; ECF No. 291; ECF No. 31 at 4–5; see also ECF No. 23-1.
Ms. Coulter’s affidavit does include some ties to New Jersey, notably that she has paid
taxes in New Jersey and has doctors in New Jersey. See ECF No. 52 at 22.5 However, Ms. Coulter
does not know if she is still registered to vote in New Jersey (and admits to not having voted in the
last presidential election), and states that one of her two phone numbers is a 412 area code, which
covers parts of Pittsburgh. Although Ms. Coulter alleges that she has a New Jersey driver’s license,
she acknowledges that the address listed on her driver’s license is her Philadelphia P.O. Box and
It is unclear to the Court if the apartment number is #3 or #4, see ECF No. 29 at 2, 7, but this discrepancy does not
change the analysis that Ms. Coulter is currently using a fixed Pennsylvania address in certain filings for ongoing
Previously, the Honorable Cathy Bissoon of this District found these types of ties “inapposite” because they “do not
contradict Plaintiff’s clear assertion that she is a resident of the greater-Philadelphia area.” Coulter v. Coulter, 2016
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54103, at *4 n.3 (W.D. Pa., Apr. 22, 2016) (Bissoon, J.), affirmed by, 715 F. App’x 158 (3d Cir.
2017) (finding that the fact that Ms. Coulter’s “driver’s license, health insurance and library cards were issued by,
and/or are affiliated with, New Jersey is inapposite, as is her allegedly paying income taxes there[,]” because “[t]hese
incidents do not contradict Plaintiff’s clear assertion that she is a resident of the greater-Philadelphia area; that her
residency on the ‘[east] side of the river’ is, under her own reasoning, happenstance; and that her clear and unequivocal
intention is to vacate her current residence, thereby defeating any suggestion of permanency.”)
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that the license “does not identify even the approximate location of Coulter’s actual residence.”
ECF No. 52 at 8.
Ms. Coulter’s affidavit asserts that although Ms. Coulter does not have a “final, specific
address where she believes that she will someday be found dead on the floor by the meter reader,”
she “has consistently found herself ‘home’ in what might be considered the Eastern Suburbs of
Philadelphia.” ECF No. 52 at 19–20. Ms. Coulter considers “New Jersey to be made of up of the
Philadelphia region, the New York City region – and the area in between those two regions, the
middle of New Jersey.” ECF No. 52 at 20. Judge Bisson previously rejected this argument, finding
that “[Ms. Coulter’s] explanations regarding the geographic fluidity of the greater-Philadelphia
area do not establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that she is domiciled in New Jersey.”
See Coulter v. Coulter, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54103, at *2–3 (W.D. Pa., Apr. 22, 2016) (Bissoon,
J.), affirmed by, 715 F. App’x 158 (3d Cir. 2017).
Finally, in her Objections to the R&R here, Ms. Coulter changes tune and argues that
Illinois is her domicile, see ECF No. 52 at 5 (“Judge Schwab… found that Coulter is not a Citizen
of Pennsylvania - just as Coulter has argued in the Instant Matter. In fact, as Coulter has proven
… approximately 30 years ago, Coulter moved to Illinois. with the expressed intention of making
Illinois (specifically, ‘Chicagoland’) her permanent place of residence…” (emphasis original)).
Ms. Coulter’s assertion that Illinois is her domicile contrasts starkly to her arguments in front of
the Magistrate Judge, which were related to New Jersey being considered her “home area.” ECF
No. 39 at 5.
The Court has considered: Ms. Coulter’s inconsistencies as to whether her domicile is
Illinois or New Jersey; her admissions to having been away from New Jersey since at least early
2020 and having no place to return in New Jersey, ECF No. 52 at 21 (admitting that she would
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need “a unit in one of the extend stay hotels in [the New Jersey] region”); her consistent use of
her Butler, Pennsylvania address and/or her Philadelphia P.O. Box in both prior and current
lawsuits in this District; and her limited ties to New Jersey (taxes, doctors, one phone number,
and a driver’s license with a Pennsylvania P.O. box address). Even if the presumption in favor of
her continued-domicile in Pennsylvania is no longer applicable due to Judge Schwab’s May 24,
2017 order in Coulter v. Paul Laurence Dunbar Community Center et al. determining that he had
diversity jurisdiction, the Court finds that Ms. Coulter has not met her burden of persuasion as the
proponent of federal subject-matter jurisdiction or provided sufficient facts to establish citizenship
in any state.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the case is dismissed for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction and that Defendant James P. Coulter’s Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 28, and
Defendants Gerry and Joseph Paulisick’s Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint, ECF
No. 30, are HEREBY GRANTED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED this 10th day of May, 2022.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Christy Criswell Wiegand
CHRISTY CRISWELL WIEGAND
United States District Judge
Case 2:21-cv-00861-CCW-CRE Document 55 Filed 05/10/22 Page 9 of 9
The Honorable Cynthia Reed Eddy
Chief Magistrate Judge
Jean Elizabeth Coulter
P.O. Box 8094
City of Philadelphia, PA 19101
Barbara Ellen Coulter (Valvano)
1906 Wychwood Drive
Austin, TX 78746
All Counsel of Record via CM/ECF
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